Category: Miscellaneous

To All the Paper Towels I’ve Used Before

It’s a well-known fact that not all paper towels are created equal. Some of them have all the absorbent qualities of cardboard, while others are like someone took a sponge and turned it into paper form through the miracle of modern science. The trick, of course, is finding that sweet spot where you’re not paying an arm and a leg for drying your hands, and you’re not just smearing water around while pretending you’re having some sort of an effect. There are bonus points for being environmentally friendly, as well.

And because This Is Important, I figured I’d devote a whole blog post to the topic. Ranking the drying methods out there, from worst to best. I’m going to use a couple of different factors to rate them each. First: ease of use. Second: affordability. Third: effectiveness. Fourth: environmental friendliness. Fifth: ick factor. You know you want to read it . . .

Public Restroom Drying Options

When heading to the bathroom in a public place, I almost always wash my hands. (The times I haven’t are more due to the fact that the sink is broken, or there is no soap, or the very thought of touching the sink convinces me it’ll be much worse in the long run, so I just go find some hand sanitizer instead.) However, there have been plenty of times I choose to just wipe my hands on my pants or air dry them instead. Here are some of the worst options:

  • Blown Air Dryers: Ease of use (2). Affordability (4). Effectiveness (1-3). Environmental Friendliness (3). Ick Factor (5). There are different types of air dryers. It’s a plus that they just need a press of a button or wave of the hand to get them going, but the thought of using one now (after COVID) leaves much to be desired. There are enough germs in a bathroom already. We really don’t need to make them more airborne. Plus, some air dryers are better than others. At the bottom of the heap are the one’s that don’t really blow much in the way of air. It’s more like a gentle breeze, and you’ll be standing there for the next 10 years before your hands are dry. Then there are the ones that make you stick your hand inside them to activate them, going on the theory that those germs aren’t just going to spread themselves, so it’s more helpful if you put your hands into a spot that can collect the germs and deliver them more efficiently. Then you’ve got the industrial wind machines that try to take your skin off, since skin can’t be wet if it’s not on your body. But blown air dryers really suffer because they are so hyper focused. You can’t wipe a table off with one. You can’t blow your nose with one. (Granted, I haven’t tried to blow my nose with one, but . . . )
  • Hand Towels: Ease of use (5). Affordability (1). Effectiveness (5). Environmental Friendliness (4). Ick Factor (5). I suppose some places think they’re being home-ier by providing real towels to dry hands. I would sooner use a rabid skunk, but maybe some people out there prefer these? When I see a towel in a public bathroom, I can’t help but think what horrors that towel has seen over the last days or weeks. True, there are those funky machines that have towels on some kind of a rolling loop mechanism, where you pull down to expose a new piece of towel, but I’ve always found them more than a little suspect. If I see anything cloth-related, I’ll just wave my hands dry, thank you very much. I don’t care if they’re effective or easy to use. No.
  • Paper Towels: Ease of use (1-5). Affordability (4). Effectiveness (1-5). Environmental Friendliness (3). Ick Factor (1). The good thing about a paper towel is that you know where it’s been. If it’s nice and crisp, you don’t have to worry about the ick factor too much. The problem with them is you never know the experience you’re going to have when you get one. Some of them absorb about as well as a rock. Some of them get drenched after you’ve put about a teaspoon of water into them. Some people solve this problem by just taking about a bakers’ dozen of the paper towels before they start to try to dry their hands, but that really sinks the environmental friendliness score. On the other hand, you can indeed take some of these for using elsewhere, so yay for that. In an ideal world, a public restroom has paper towels that dry your hands with a single towel. That rarely happens.

Home Options

  • Paper Towels: Ease of use (5). Affordability (2). Effectiveness (5). Environmental Friendliness (2). Ick Factor (1). If money were no object, and I didn’t care about the environment at all, then brand name paper towels would be where it was at. Bounty, baby. The quicker picker upper. My problem is that I hate throwing money away, and I hate just making extra unnecessary waste. Bounty does both of these. I generally compromise by getting the paper towels that are half as wide as the normal ones, and even then I end up tearing those in half to make sure I’m just using what I need. But I still have a hard time using one without thinking that I could have used a cloth napkin or a hand towel instead. That said, there are definitely things you just need a paper towel for. What sort of a monster kills a spider with cloth towel?
  • Cloth Napkins: Ease of use (4). Affordability (2). Effectiveness (4). Environmental Friendliness (2). Ick Factor (3). They definitely get the job done. The big problem here is that they’re often too small, and they tend to get stained after a while, to the point that you debate whether or not they’re really clean, even after they’re straight out of the washing machine. I always feel kind of guilty giving guests cloth napkins unless they’re pristine. (The napkins, not the guests.) Also, these aren’t the cheapest route to go by any means.
  • Hand Towels: Ease of use (5). Affordability (1). Effectiveness (5). Environmental Friendliness (2). Ick Factor (3). I mean, if I had money just coming out of my eyeballs, then I’d use hand towels for everything. Definitely absorbent. They’ll dry pretty much anything you need. But they just aren’t that good for single-use applications. Maybe I just need to get over my inner desire to make each hand towel last as long as humanly possible before I have to wash it . . .
  • Actual Towels: Ease of use (2). Affordability (1). Effectiveness (5). Environmental Friendliness (1). Ick Factor (5). Proof that there can, indeed, be too much of a good thing. For one thing, buying actual towels is neither cheap nor easy to use for most tasks. You’ve just got too much terry. For another, when I go to the bathroom at a friend’s house and all that’s there is their actual towel, I start to get flashbacks to public bathrooms. Just sayin’.

So what’s the solution? What’s the one towel to rule them all? I’m afraid the search continues, for me. So far, the most universal towel option I’ve found happens to typically be “wipe your hands on your pants.” Unfortunately, this has a very low Wife Tolerance Rating, which often ends up being the most critical score of all.

How about you? Got any good towel tips, or horror stories of what to avoid? Please share.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

New Nominations for Rules of Civility

As part of my semesterly “tour of classes” routine, I visited a class today that was discussion George Washington’s Rules of Civility. This was a list of 110 different rules that Washington had copied out by hand (probably from a French translation of those rules) by the time he was sixteen years old. They’re generally guidelines to follow when you want to be polite in public, and they contain things like #10: “When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them” and #44: “When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.”

As you might expect, a number of them seem far too proper and stuffy for today’s social scene. (Though a number of them definitely still apply.) I was wondering what such a list would consist of today, and thought we might crowdsource it a little. First, what are some nominees from the list that you feel should still be on it today? One that I saw would be #82: “Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.” I mean, to me that’s just common sense. I always try to under promise and over deliver. I want to make sure people have expectations I can meet or exceed, rather than the other way around. When you lead people to believe you can do more than you’re capable of, it can sour a lot of relationships. And that’s silly, because you’re the one setting yourself up for failure in those conditions. True, someone might be taken in by someone who promises the moon, but sooner or later those promises come due . . .

So that’s my nominee for “rule that should remain.” My nominee for “rule that should be added” would be something that seems pretty obvious to me as well: “Don’t make death threats.”

Seriously, people. I don’t know who’s out there thinking it’s okay to threaten to injure or kill a stranger on the internet, but I do know that people on the left and the right both get these death threats all the time. Has the “anonymous death threat” somehow taken the place of “signal to show I’m really upset and want to make sure you know that”? Because if that’s the case, that needs to stop now.

A bit ago, a movie on Netflix made a big splash for a controversial poster. The film’s about an 11 year old who joins a dance team (or something), and despite it not being about anything really that controversial, Netflix had the “genius” idea to market it as a film about an 11 year old girl twerking competition, with a poster of sexually posed 11 year olds to match. It was a boneheaded marketing stunt, and it caused a large number of people to call for a boycott of Netflix and the movie.

It also, apparently, inspired people to send death threats to the director. Look, this post isn’t defending a movie I’ve never seen and never intend to watch. (Even if it’s not about a twerking dance competition, there’s nothing in that movie that sound remotely like “Bryce would like this.”) But let’s assume it really was a movie about a bunch of tweenagers twerking their hearts out. Definitely not okay, but worthy of a death threat?

Certainly not.

I can’t think of anything that *is* worthy of a death threat, honestly. And yet somehow people are lobbing them around with abandon. No idea how we can get that trend to stop, but I sure do wish it would. Going from “debate” to “death threats” in under 3 seconds isn’t going to do anyone any good.

What would your nominees be?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Picking Out a Puppy

Back when we committed to getting a Golden Retriever, we knew we were getting one dog out of 18 spread over two litters. We knew it would be a male, and we knew we were 17th in line, so we weren’t expecting too much of a decision when it came time to get the actual puppy. What could be so hard about a simple thing like that?

Tuesday afternoon, we got The Call. We could drive over and pick out Ferris Drooler. Suddenly, the decision I’d passed off as easy weeks before seemed much thornier. As we headed over, I began to seriously wonder what, exactly, you look for when “choosing a dog.” After all, it’s not as if we’d chosen any of our children. You get what you’re given. And knowing how much can happen over the course of life, how much of a “good dog” is in the dog in particular, and how much is in how you raise him?

What can I say? It was a very existential drive. When we arrived, I still didn’t have any better idea how we would choose. Are you looking for color? Size? Temperament? “Something in their eyes”? A puppy that looks calm at the moment might only be calm because he was going crazy thirty minutes ago. It seemed like the worst case scenario for me: a decision that might really have long term effects, but which no amount of preparation could get me ready.

When we got there, the breeder made things even more complicated by letting us know there were four puppies we could choose from. “Just take them out back, put them on the ground, and see which one comes right for you,” she suggested. It seemed like great advice. So we took the four squirming bundles of energy to the back yard, I stood a bit of a ways off, and we Released the Hounds.

All four of them came right at me. So much for that advice.

(As a side note, can I say how glad I am that we’re not getting four puppies? Keeping track of all those guys was practically impossible, even with all five of us there. None of them really wanted to be held, and all of them wanted to go exploring in different directions. It was like the baby scene in Raising Arizona.)

Denisa and the kids were all drawn to a smaller, darker furred puppy. I couldn’t tell the difference between any of them (other than color), and so in the end, I made the easiest decision of them all: I let other people decide. We got the smaller one.

In all honesty, I don’t think it really mattered that much. I think we’d have been happy with any of them. If we’d have pulled up and been told, “This is your dog,” the end result would probably be the same.

But I’m very glad I don’t have to pick out a puppy again any time in the future. I can’t take that kind of pressure.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Death of a Fridge

Ever since we moved into our house, our fridge has been a constant companion. Always in the background, humming, keeping our food cold and our ice cream frozen, ready to offer a little bit of deliciousness whenever we felt a bit peckish. And like many constants in life, we came to take our fridge for granted. It wasn’t moving anywhere. What other options did it have?

And as the years went by, it began to develop its own little quirks and nuances. It would keep your frozen section frozen, but if you didn’t open and close the freezer door periodically, it would decide maybe you weren’t that interested in ice cream after all, and so it would stop working as well. I don’t know why it did this, and I never really cared to look into the reasons too carefully. I just knew you had to open and shut the freezer door once a day or so.

But that was a red flag. A sign that our relationship with our fridge was waning. If we’d been smart, maybe we would have paid attention and fixed the problem. But let’s be honest. The fridge was never a top of the line model. It was just . . . there. Freezer on the top, fridge down bottom. Brand name? No clue. Mayfairgidaire?

In any case, a month ago, the freezer died completely. A whole tub of ice cream, ruined. All sorts of meat, done for. It started leaking water into the fridge compartment as well, and we knew the Time Had Come. All good relationships end eventually, I suppose. We needed a new fridge.

Except apparently the middle of a pandemic is a bad time to buy major appliances? Scratch that. You can buy the appliances. Companies have no trouble taking your money. But getting those appliances is a different matter. We found a fridge we liked at Lowe’s. We ordered it. As we were ordering, it said it would get here in mid-June (this was back toward the end of May). Fine. Whatever.

Once we’d bought it, they switched the estimation to mid-August. Nice. Even then, we thought we’d be able to last.

Until last week, when the fridge stopped working too. Now the whole thing is basically a cooler with a light in it. We have a back up fridge in the garage from when Denisa used to bake and needed the extra fridge space, but taking a trek to the garage every time I need a glass of milk is a bit much.

What if we ordered a fridge from Lowe’s or Home Depot that was actually in stock? We checked. We tried. No dice. Actually getting a fridge we wanted to get here before the end of August just didn’t seem to be in the cards. Denisa faced the problem head on and started calling local retailers. It took a while, but she finally struck pay dirt.

We now have a fridge coming on Tuesday. One that will even have a working freezer, and might even work without being finicky. (Hope springs eternal.) I will say that having grown accustomed to being able to get anything I want whenever I want it, this pandemic time has been a real eye-opener, reminding me of how it can still be elsewhere, and how it used to be for us.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Mr. Forgetful

There are usual symptoms that come up in my life when I’m reaching the “I’m Overwhelmed” stage of things. My room gets messier. Office gets more cluttered. I run on a shorter fuse. But I’ve started coming across a new sign that hasn’t come up in my life before.

I’m losing track of time.

Not in an “I thought it was noon, but it’s actually 2pm” sort of way. That’s happened to me all the time. No, I mean in an “I can’t honestly remember what day of the week it is.” Is it Monday? Friday? Am I supposed to be excited that it’s the end of the week, or dreading the week to come?

It’s not just the days of the week, either. There have been multiple times the last month or two when I’ve forgotten what season I’m in. Maybe that’s normal when you live in a place with seasons that blend together, but I’m in Maine. In autumn. You just have to glance out the window for a second to see a gorgeous display of changing leaves that only happens once a year. Still, the other day I was on my way to Bangor for another meeting, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember what time of the year it was. Spring? Winter? Summer? It didn’t occur to me to look out the window.

It’s not like this quandary went on for a long time, but it was a good couple of minutes. Sort of like when you’re looking for your sunglasses and then finally find them on your head, but on a more cosmic scale.

These days, I just rely on my calendar for everything. I try to shut out everything but what’s on my schedule right there in front of me. I know I’ve booked things in a way that I can get all the things done that need doing. As long as I don’t think about them all, then I don’t feel too overwhelmed.

I just don’t remember when I am.

Does that happen to anyone else, or is it just me?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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